[Motivational Intro Music]
Chelsea: Hi, it’s Dr. Chelsea! Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast, and I am so happy you're here! I’m ready to dive into part three of my goal-setting series. If this is the first time you're tuning in, I’ve been talking about goal setting all month, so you might want to back up a few episodes and start with part one of this goal-setting series. But if you're a loyal listener, than you already know why competition goals could hurt a dancer’s motivation and why it’s important to set process and performance goals instead. So, today, we’re gonna talk about why people fail at their goals.
There are a lot of common problems that come up for dancers, and they derail you from reaching your full potential and climbing your personal mountain. But if you know what could get in the way and you plan for it, you are much closer to realizing your dreams. Here’s what could get in the way of your goals.
[Motivational Intro Music]
Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast. I’m Dr. Chelsea, a former professional dancer and dance team coach turned sport psychologist. This podcast focuses on four main pillars: motivation, resilience, mindset, and community. Each week, you’ll learn actionable strategies, mindsets, and tips to teach your dancers more than good technique. This is a podcast where we can all make a lasting impact and share our passion for dance. Let’s do this!
[Motivational Intro Music]
Eight Common Goal Problems – 1:24
When I work with dancers and coaches on their goals, there are eight common problems that I see, and by sharing these with you today I hope you’ll be able to recognize what is most likely to be your own roadblock so you can plan for it ahead of time.
One: Setting Too Many Too Soon – 1:39
When I set goals for the quarter (say September to November), that’s usually more of a preparation part of our season. So we usually work on things like stamina or flexibility, skills, strength and conditioning. The problem is when you meet at the beginning of a season, a lot of dancers try to set five goals that cover the whole season, and the truth is, if goals are set well with all the pieces that go into it, you have a clear plan of action and a tracking system, then five goals is way too many. I encourage teams to set maybe two per quarter. If you set too many too soon, you won't make as much progress as you would if you focus it down a little. Then come next quarter when you’ve seen the growth and the progress, you can set two more. So don't set too many too soon.
Two: Failing to Recognize Individual Differences – 2:32
Not everyone on a team is starting a goal in the same place, and there are some goals where we need to consider that. For example, when setting a strength goal or a cardio goal, it’s more effective for everyone to have a baseline and a goal to get maybe 10% better or 20% better than it is for everyone to have the same goal of what to lift or how many reps or how fast to go. This helps reduce comparison on the team, and it’s a better performance goal, which, as a reminder, are those goals where you are compared to yourself. You see your own progress, then everyone can celebrate each other’s growth without comparing to each other about who is doing more in the weight room or who’s running faster. Recognize individual differences when you set performance goals.
Three: Setting Goals That are Too General – 3:24
This is the biggest issue I see. Setting goals like improve stamina or better facials and performance quality. Okay, that’s a good place to start, but you are set up for failure. Your goal has to include how for it to work. Broad goals like “give 100% effort” are too general and you’ll never know if you made it, and worse, if you're falling short, there’s no easy way to fix it, and you probably won't know until it’s too late. So don't set goals that are too broad.
Four: Failing to Modify Unrealistic Goals – 3:58
Sometimes we set goals that are a little too ambitious. Sometimes I have to encourage dancers to push themselves a little more, but often I have to ask them to reign it in and be a little more realistic. If you set a goal that turns out to be too ambitious, that’s not an automatic failure. I think that’s what people are worried about. If you're tracking your progress properly and you realize you aren't progressing at the pace you want or the pace you thought you would, then you simply recalibrate. You make an adjustment.
Overly-ambitious goals are only a problem if you're not tracking progress. So you don't know what’s unachievable, and then you're disappointed when you don't reach the goal that was never realistic to begin with. It’s okay, and even good practice, to modify those overly-ambitious goals. Good goal setting allows for that flexibility.
Five: Failing to Set Process and Performance Goals – 4:55
Okay, this was a big topic of the last two episodes, so I won't belabor it here, but a common problem is when dancers only set competition goals. You want to set performance goals that are based on your own improvement compared to you and process goals that outline how you are going to do it. Don't get too caught up in those outcome competition goals.
Six: Failing to Understand the Required Time Commitment – 5:20
This process takes time, and not everyone is willing to give up practice time or class time to do it. I would say if you already have clear values and are just setting goals, it takes at least an hour to set two clearly-identified goals with plans of execution. A lot of people talk about it for a few minutes at the beginning of one practice and move on, but it takes more than that. Where a lot of dancers fall short is not allowing for the time to check in on the goals later so that you can adjust and then set new goals.
Remember problem number one about setting too may too soon? Well, if you do it right and you only set a few early on, you have to put more time into it later to see how far you got, make those adjustments, and set new goals. A lot of dancers set clear goals in the summer but then they don't honor the time commitment it takes to achieve those goals through tracking and future meetings. It takes time. You're gonna have to stop dancing for a little bit and really talk about this. But then the time you are actually in class or in practice is more focused. So you actually make more progress in the long run than you would without taking the time to do this.
Seven: Setting Only Technique-Related Goals – 6:38
When I talk about process and performance goals with dancers, many of them go straight to goals that are all based on technique and achieving a new skill for their solo or a team turn section or a hip-hop trick, and those can be helpful. They're good. But it’s not the whole picture. So don't forget about goals that measure your progress in other areas like strength and conditioning, or goals about team connection and bonding, or mental skills goals like reflection and increased concentration and focus. Balancing the types of goals helps you become a more well-rounded dancer, mentally and physically. You’ll see progress with different types of goals at different rates, which improves motivation and helps you stay on track, reducing burnout and all the other good things that come with good goal setting.
Eight: Failing to Create a Supportive Atmosphere – 7:29
If you spend the time to set clear goals but then you don't have an encouraging and positive environment, you won't see the growth. You can't have a studio that sets clear goals but then focuses on punishment for not achieving them or ranks dancers against each other. Use the positive coaching tools in your toolbox and remind dancers to encourage each other’s growth, support each other on the hard days, and focus on progress over perfection.
Recap – 8:01
Okay, so those are the big challenges I see for most dancers. Take a second to pause, reflect, notice what might be getting in your way or what has held you back in the past. Do you usually set too many goals? Do you forget to check in on them or do you only set competition goals? Pick one thing to focus on and make that change in your goals right away.
So before I leave, I want to summarize all of this in the positive phrasing, right? So think about how these as the eight things that you should do to improve your goal setting:
- Set two goals at a time over shorter periods of time; achieve those then set more
- Recognize individual differences
- Set specific goals
- Modify the goals as you go
- Set process and performance goals
- Make time for progress checks and goal evaluations throughout the year
- Set goals about different aspects of dance including technique, social connection, and mental skills
- Ensure you have a positive and encouraging environment in pursuit of your goals
I hope understanding more about what could get in the way is valuable and I hope it inspires you to try and set some clear goals for you and your dancers. Take all three of these episodes together and really jump into this with your dancers. I promise it’ll make a difference!
Of course, if you’d like help, I love working with school teams and studios to help them with this goal-setting process. So if you’d like more information about a virtual goal-setting workshop, go to www.chelseapierotti.com/workshop. I’d love to work with you and customize this for your dancers!
If you have any questions about goals, or maybe your team set some goals and you're not sure they're the right kind, leave me a message. I will do my best to help! You can leave a voicenote for the show anytime at www.chelseapierotti.com/message. You can scroll down and see that in the show notes wherever you're listening right now.
Okay, that’s it for today! Before I go, one last thing. I truly want to thank you for being here and listening and supporting the show. It means a lot to me, and I hope you keep sharing your passion for dance with the world!
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